By Michelle Gillan Larkin, a mom and writer living in Northern Westchester.
I discovered Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden over the summer, shortly after it opened, when I was on a mission to find the perfect place for my little guy to watch trains go by, while I could sit for a bit, latte in hand. Housed in the historic Port Chester train station, this turned out to be just the ticket. Not only the restaurant itself, but the outdoor beer garden, in particular, as it offers great views, plenty of room to roam, and enough to keep parents busy, too (ahem).
Now that winter is here, the beer garden is surrounded by roll-down walls which obscure the silver streaks my four-year old longs to see. However, there’s lots more for grown-ups, both inside and out. Which presents the age-old dilemma: Bring the kids or get a sitter?
While this is still a great spot for kids at lunchtime on the weekends, the real name of the game at Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden is big kids night out. In other words: Happy hour, date night, or double-date night because it’s got that “more the merrier” vibe about it.
It’s a party for your palette, too, and my date night began with the locally brewed pumpkin ale and spring rolls stuffed with pastrami from the famed Carnegie Deli, sauerkraut, and gruyere. I don’t know which I savored more, those crispy little bites of heaven or the divine spicy mustard for dipping. The Kobe sliders were a close second, along with the warm giant pretzel, which is so giant it arrives hanging from something resembling a coat hook.
Like the apps, entree portions are plentiful and plenty creative—both the organic chicken and the St. Louis ribs are prepared in the establishment’s very own smoker. The chicken is tender and flavorful, and I couldn’t get enough of the sweet corn mashed potatoes. (Though I didn’t need the onion straws that were piled on top.)
The biggest mouth-waterer has got to be the bacon & chicken mac n’ cheese. Enough said. Except I should add that it’s super creamy, and delicately seasoned. Plus, it’s topped with something to remind you of those left behind at home: Goldfish. Salads, burgers, and fish tacos round out the “something for everyone” menu, and it really wouldn’t be an authentic beer hall without bratwurst, grilled and served with sauerkraut.
We sampled a few more craft beers during our dinner date—the orange blossom light being the most memorable—and, naturally, saved room for dessert, which is either prepared in-house, like the salted, crunch chocolate mousse (oh my!) or is fresh from a family bakery around the corner.
Take all this fabulous food and drink, mix in the fantastic service, moderate prices, and that truly palpable feeling of fun, and put it all in a building from 1890 (tables are crafted from old Northwest Pacific Railroad floorboards), and you have a recipe for a really interesting night out. Just don’t tell junior you’re on a date at the train station—he’ll never go to sleep for the sitter.
Port Chester Hall and Beer Garden, Port Chester Train Station, 3 Broad Street, Port Chester; 914-305-8383